However, both insurance and ICT experts have agreed, as implied in several comments made by them at various fora in the past that the challenge posed by ineffective distribution channels in the insurance industry would soon be a thing of the past.
Speaking on the increasing roles of ICT to insurance products and services delivery and what companies in the country are doing to explore the immense value-adding benefits of ICT tools in the industry, an ICT expert and an insurance employee, Engr. Maxwell Obayuwana, predicted that with the increasing investments by operators on key technologies and solutions, the challenges of insurance penetration will soon be overcome by operators.
According to him, many insurance companies in the country are fast adopting the use of ICT applications as distribution channels for the promotion and sales of their products and services, adding that with the positive development in the insurance sector the prospects of faster products and services delivery remain brighter in the near future.
He said: “The issue of distribution channel in the industry would soon be over as the application of ICT technologies and solutions has remained a very good innovation for the transaction of underwriting business.”
Obayuwana pointed out that on account of the effectiveness and successes that were recorded in the application of ICT tools in other sectors of the economy, particularly in the banking sector, that the application of same tools in the insurance industry for the purposes of deepening insurance penetration cannot but yield positive results.
He pointed out that virtually all the insurance companies in the country have adopted or are beginning to adopt the innovative technique of selling insurance products through telecommunication platforms, e-commerce websites and on their individual company website. Obayuwana, also expressed his views from another dimension by saying that “there is the need to explore and develop the innovations of ICT platforms as distribution channels for growing the insurance sector in order to deepen insurance penetration.”
His advice is hinged on the fact that other distribution channels, such as agency networking and financial institutions channels such as bancassure, have exhaustively been explored and developed to the present unsatisfactory developmental stage of distribution channels in the insurance industry where their individual or collective Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT) can be said to have been identified by researchers and marketing strategists. distribution channels can be used to complement it.
Another analyst, Mr. Harrison Adegbe, said that most insurance companies in the country had adopted ICT as a distribution channel while others are also determined to invest in and deploy relevant technologies and solutions in order to be competitive in the rapidly evolving industry.
He however believes that there is need for insurance companies to adopt the use of ICT applications, either on telecommunication or internet platform, in prospecting for customers and sustaining their loyalty as it is obvious that other channels of distribution in the industry have for ages been tested.
Investigations by National Mirror correspondent on the level of ITC deployment in the industry showed that various insurance companies in the country were tapping into the opportunities offered by ICT technology for the distribution of their products and services.
The founding Managing Director, Chams Plc, Sir Demola Aladekomo, at the 2015 Insurance Industry Mega Conference, listed ways by which insurance companies can effectively utilize Information Technology (IT) to promote their products and services in the Nigerian market considering the massive adoption of technology tools by Nigerians in recent years.
The ICT expert, who was represented at the forum by the Managing Director of Chams Access Limited, Funke Alomo-Oluwa, in a paper entitled “Information Technology as a Strategy for Market Penetration and Expansion” noted that ICT tools remained crucial to all sectors of the economy, the insurance industry being a major part of it.
“There is a need for insurance companies and her professional bodies to leverage this platform by partnering with relevant companies and agencies in the technology sector to create and provide specialized services which would help update their internal and external operations”, Aladekomo said. Also in May 2015, Signal Alliance and Microsoft collaborated with Insurance companies in Nigeria to promote the adoption of cloud technology and IT-driven insurance solutions for the robust development of the sector.
The parties, with the endorsement of Nigerian Insurance Association (NIA), agreed to develop technology solutions that will enhance the practice of Insurance business in Nigeria. The ICT initiative which was unveiled by the concerned organizations mentioned above was organized as a workshop that had key players in the insurance industry including; Abimbola Ajayi of NEM Insurance, Romanus Ezengwu of IEI, Tonye Sigha of FBN Insurance, Oyewole Maku of Cornerstone Insurance, etc.in attendance.
At the event, Mr. Anthony Nwankwo, who represented Signal Alliance gave an insight into what the insurance industry stands to gain by adopting Cloud Technology when he said “Our vast knowledge in deploying technology in the Nigeria financial services sector and global experience of our partner Microsoft have been made available to enable this sector operate more efficiently thereby giving workers and customers a whole new experience.”
In his remarks, Audu Dunni Oladokun, NIA Chairman, Education Sub-Committee said that knowledge shared at the roundtable showed how trending technologies can transform insurance businesses in the country. Participants at the forum agreed that there was need to automate the process of design and approval by incorporating secured digital signatures in a holistic manner that will ensure speed, convenience and mobile access to insurance companies in the country.
The Imperative of ICT Technology as a distribution channel was also harped on in August last year when an insurance cover conceptualized by Airtel and two insurance providers, MicroEnsure and Cornerstone Insurance Plc recorded the subscription of 130,000 customers within two weeks.
source: National Mirror